Disney+’s What If…? is both Marvel’s first attempt at playing in the multiverse sandbox, and the first animated show set fully in the MCU. But What If…? doesn’t seem interested in being a placeholder for the live-action shows, it’s got stories to tell, and some of them might end up being as interesting as the ones we originally saw. Episode 1×08 “What If…Ultron Won?” focuses on Ultron taking over the infinity stones, the world and then …the multiverse?
A show with so many characters and perspectives felt like it required more than one voice. So, I’m teaming up with my friends Lizzie and Lynnie to review What If…? Join us each week as we rejoice, commiserate, and hopefully enjoy the show. Let’s do this!
Lyra: In comparison to last week’s episode with Thor where we laughed and had a great ol’ time…this episode was kind of a dud for me. No one cared for Ultron in 2015 and we still don’t care about him in 2021. What made that man…no, that being interesting was the connection that he had with Wanda. Their love and the way that it blossomed on WandaVision made me care for that face. This face…I don’t know it and I don’t care for it. He’s just a fading shadow of something truly great. In comparison to my feels, what did you guys think of “What If…Ultron Won?”
Lizzie: This was my least favorite episode of the show so far, and I know it’s setup for something that could end up being interesting, but meh x10. I just don’t know who wanted an episode about Ultron. Or even about The Watcher, who we haven’t spent enough time with to care for. These episodes work better when there’s an emotional component to them, when there’s at least a storyline we care about, and I just …did not care about anything.
Lynnie: Meh. I don’t really get the appeal of some of these episodes to see how it could all go wrong and apocalyptic, if I’m being honest. And Ultron, while big for Marvel, was less interesting to me in the sense that I care more about the heroes’ personal triumphs and resolution to fight against the worst odds than I do the bad guy winning and everything being horrible. It especially sucked to see someone I came to care about, like Lyra did, in WandaVision be transformed into a mad tyrant in search of an interdimensional war. It all just didn’t work for me.
Lyra: I will admit that it was kind of cool seeing Natasha getting to do all the hero posing with the shield. I’ve always wondered what would happen if she got a hold of this power. And now we know. This is the universe where everything dies but she continues living, a shield at her back and a purpose on her mind. Because Natasha has always been a hero. Plus, this is where I get bitter, Clint dying instead of her fixed a wrong that should’ve never happened in the OG Marvel timeline. How do you guys feel about Natasha and Clint and the role they played in all of this?
Lizzie: I like how they’ve used Natasha on the show, in general. It feels a bit like course-correcting, in that they’ve realized too late that they wasted Natasha’s character, and now they’re trying to give us all these cool moments, but honestly, I’ll take it. Particularly in an episode where absolutely nothing else spoke to me. And yes, that includes Clint, who I still just do not care about. Care about more than Ultron isn’t really a compliment.
Lynnie: I think it’s cool that they’re trying to give her moments and sort of retcon the way they wasted her abilities and coolness when we were coming up with her in the Marvel universe, but I’m at the point now where I don’t really care all that much for her or Clint. Their stories don’t really pull me in the way a favorite like Okoye might, so it was objectively cool but I wasn’t all that interested.
Lyra: The Watcher really surprised me in “What If…Ultron Won?” I should’ve seen it coming, honestly. But I was lured into this false sense of security that he would always be neutral and just…watch. This turn of events where he went and actually threw it down with Ultron made me interested in the character for the first time. What did you guys think? Have you liked The Watcher from the very start and how cool was it to see where he resided in and how the universes are separated?
Lizzie: The Watcher is a big fat hypocrite. I cannot interfere, he says, even when he literally interfered by showing himself to Strange Supreme, who, ironically, is who he needs to turn to now. I appreciate the idea behind his oath, but his oath has caused much more harm than good in the end. I guess that’s the thing with storytelling, it’s about giving a character compelling reasons to do both a and b, so that even if you feel there’s a clear choice, the character doesn’t.
Lynnie: The voice actor, Jeffery Wright, has a stellar, compelling voice and a gravitas that linked all of the stories in a fun way. He made the series feel interesting, even when I didn’t care about the particulars of single episodes. It was fun to see him throw down and get involved at last, but I do think Dr. Strange’s episode set the stage for it. It was nice to see The Watcher protecting the multi-verse, stepping up, and becoming a main character in a way that went beyond the narration. His struggle to step beyond his role and his oath, to protect the multi-verse from Ultron, was my favorite thing from the episode and where the storytelling shined.
Lyra: The big question is what comes next in What If…?. This has been the whole point of the series, which I just discovered, and my mind is reeling at the possibility of all these great heroes meeting up and deciding to take on the world together. I’m most interested to see how the zombie world changes things because that hot mess can spill into others and that’s the last thing we need. Let Ultron destroy that universe, after grabbing out favs up to help destroy Ultron, and go and meet up with Captain Carter and this episode’s version of Natasha. Two badass women with shields. Swoon alert. Who are you looking forward to meeting up and what do you think comes next?
Lizzie: The Multiverse Avengers are coming! And though they could have come for a more interesting storyline, I guess this Ultron will have to do. As for who I want to see …well, we all want to see our favorites, but my favorites haven’t really fared well on What If …? so I will take a compelling combination of characters, whoever they are.
Lynnie: Setting up the multi-verses touching, interacting, and ultimately becoming a huge problem was really interesting, and makes me eager to see what they come up with next. I think this sets in nicely to the movies they have coming out, and we’ll see Wanda, Peter Parker, and Dr. Strange dealing with similar chaos and potentially larger stakes. But you know me, I’d like all of my favorites to have happiness – a universe where there aren’t Ultrons or killer robots. Since this is unlikely, I’d like to see Captain Carter, all of the Black Panther characters, and Sam and Bucky getting to be the heroes and potentially have doppelgangers they get to sass. That would be a lot of fun for me.